Kurdish regional government says 30-year sentence was imposed for defaming public institutions
Iraq, Politics, 1/11/2006
Reporters Without Borders has reiterated its call for the release of Kamal Sayid Qadir after the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq said his 30-year prison sentence was imposed in accordance with a law punishing "defamation of public institutions."
In a statement released on 9 January 2006, the Kurdish authorities said the law, identified as Law 21 was passed by the region's national assembly and took effect in 2003. "The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) affirms that the principles of human rights and freedom of expression continue to be respected, promoted, and assured for all persons throughout the Kurdistan Region," the statement added.
Reporters Without Borders said: "We find it hard to believe that Iraq's Kurdish authorities can say this after just sentencing a lawyer to 30 years in prison for defamation. Only extremely repressive countries have recourse to such heavy sentences for so-called crimes of opinion."
The press freedom organization said Law 21 was contrary to international standards governing freedom of expression and called on the Kurdish authorities to repeal it.
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